May 9, 2014

Feeling Crafty

In all efforts to be honest I completely stole this entire (well all except one really neat addition) concept from Mel over at Boots and Saddles.  Please go check her out.

I had some errands to run for work and a rental house to check out for us/my brother and happened to be passing by REI. I tend to stay far away from REI because all the awesome gear and tech clothing is so hard to pass up. Ignorance truly is bliss. But I needed a method to tie Gemmie tomorrow and having read Mel's blog post on the subject I knew just what I wanted to do.

 I had my shopping list:

Rope about 10' long and comfortable enough to ride holding onto if we must
2 carabiners

Sounded easy enough.

When I got to REI I asked where on earth the rope selection was and it turned out they didn't have a great one. They had lots of climbing rope, but it was all extremely small in diameter and that wasn't going to work. Too bad because they had the most awesome red and black rope in it too. I debated between regular climbing rope and webbing. Both were rated for equal strength and the webbing came in a great neon yellow for easy visibility, but I just wasn't convinced that the flat webbing was ideal. So I went with the white rope with red and black design.

I looked around while he cut it for me and found this awesome high visibility orange rope wrap. I snatched that up as well. And then went hunting for the carabiners. I really don't know the difference between the types, so I got a quick education and decided on red wire gated ones. I debated for a long time about getting ones that lock or not and ended up not due to the added time factor.

My stash. The orange rope wrap to the left is much, much brighter in real life
While waiting in line I began to think about how little I know about knots and then low and behold my eye fell on this little gem:

A quick, idiot's guide to knots!! I was in business.

Back at the office I got busy making the tie rope. I chose the figure 8 through knot for each end of the rope. the description said it was a strong, non slip knot great for attaching things such as hooks (or carabiners). Great! The instructions were unclear however and after several attempts I was getting nowhere. But never fear! The internet always is handy and I quickly found a better pictorial on how to make it.

Figure 8 through know. One went on each end of the rope.

Having created these I then attached my lovely new red carabiners to each end. In retrospect, I think I really should have gone with one locking and one non locking. But there is no time to replace it now. If I do another one (I hope I do) I will replace it then.

The next step was to create a loop about 1/3rd of the way from one end. I chose the butterfly loop knot and this one I could figure out with just the handy book. It was described as being able to withstand pressure from any direction which is what I need. It went smoothly, but what I had figured was 1/3rd actually ended up being at just about the half way point. I debated undoing it and moving it, but it looked ok where it was.

Butterfly knot
Then it was time to use my nice new bright orange wrap. The package said it is useful to help guard to rope preventing fraying. But I don't really care about fraying. She hopefully won't pull that hard and while bark can be rough, it isn't like a big rock or hunk of ice as was pictured on the package. I wrapped it around the half we will use around the tree. This was the rope is really visible and we won't be easy to miss it. Yes, I know. I fully tacked up Gemmiecakes butt is hard to run past, but we may need to get off of the trail a ways to get a good spot to tie knowing how narrow those trails are. Plus S hasn't been around Gemmie so much and it could be easy to bypass her thinking she was some other brown horse. This was it is in your face that this is indeed Gemmie, so get on and go.

The end result is a 5' ish rope with two loops, two carabiners and a loop in the center with half of it bright orange.

The plan is to connect one end (the non orange end) to the halter ring of Gem's halter/bridle and then either hold the other end while riding (why it has to be semi-comfortable) or if possible clip it to the saddle. It just depends on the length on Gem. I don't want it restricting her neck motion at all.

Then when the rider stops to tie all she has to do is wrap the orange end around a tree until snug then clip it to the middle loop. Quick and easy. And best of all it should be pretty darn secure. No loose knots to worry about. The other option is to loop it around the tree twice and then back to Gem's halter. Either way should work.

I think I should have gone with a 12' rope. By the time I made the three loops, it ate up almost half the length of the rope. You don't want too long of a section for her to avoid her getting tangled, stepping on it, etc... But you need it long enough for her to rest, potentially eat although there isn't much to munch on in the woods and look around. Hopefully this works out.

As I mentioned above, I think I would like to swap the clip on her end to a locking one. That one really shouldn't need to be messed with once it is in place and a locking one would be more secure.

The last time I did one, the hubs and I actually went out beforehand to practice. I am pretty sure I already wrote a post on it (you can look for it in the archives) and she did really well. After the first time or two she began to relax and look backward for the next runner to come up to her instead of just watching the runner leave her and get all tense. We didn't have other horses passing her though. During the event we were the only ones so we just handed off each time and stuck together. This should prove really interesting tomorrow.

The good news is that she knows the trails really well. It is 8 miles so I think we will end up doing a lot of trail we are familiar with. Oh! Off subject, but the ride manage (RM) told the hubs that there is a 19 mile loop up there. Huh? We have got to find that beast!!

I'm not too sure of our strategy. We will meet at the trail head tomorrow at 6:30am to figure it out. The faster runner usually starts on the ground because the first leg is the longest, but that would put me on the ground and S up on Gem to start. I'm thinking that Gem should have me up there to begin with when she is all tense and excited with the commotion. Sometimes she goes out all calm and steady and others she is a freight train. Not the S couldn't handle that. She has her own endurance mare who is way faster than Gemmie. I don't know.

I think we are going to go based on time. Once the rider catches up to the runner, go past 3 minutes and tie. That should give the runner about 5 minutes or so of running to get to Gem and then go. If we find we are catching up while the rider is still tying we can lengthen it. Or is S's foot hurts too much we will make sure I run more than I ride.

I'm soooo excited!!!

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